Thursday, June 4, 2009

MUMBAI 26/11: OFFERING THE OTHER CHEEK, AGAIN

We are getting back to square one, tail between legs, the empty bark beginning to sound like a pleading yelp. And all this without even the dignity of a face-saving concession by Pakistan, however tiny. Kiyani and gang must be laughing their guts out, after spitting contemptuously in India's face, yet again. The "buzdili", cowardice, that defines India's response to Pakistan's open and unrelenting efforts to hurt it through covert use of force, and spotted long back by former ISI chief Hamid Gul, is only getting worse.

When after Mumbai 26/11, Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee started chanting the "all options are open" mantra almost every second day, Pakistan was not frightened into meek submission or acceptance of its complicity in that terror attack despite the capture of Pakistani Ajmal Kasab. Army Chief Kiyani, in fact, threatened India with a response "within minutes" if India dared to launch any air attack to take out terror camps on Pakistani soil, while former President and Army Chief Musharraf warned India to not even think of an attack, saying that Pakistanis were not "wearing bangles". Other Pakistani commentators, helped by many pigeon-hearted Indians, scared India even further by talking of a nuclear war.

India was relieved when, thanks solely to American pressure, no matter what the Indian government might say, Pakistan made a minor concession by admitting that a part of the Mumbai conspiracy was hatched on Pakistani soil and arresting the Lashkar-e-Toiba commander Hafiz Saeed who had been named by Ajmal Kasab. Then began the usual delaying tactics about the "clinching" evidence India had forwarded in a huge dossier. Gradually, temperatures cooled in India, to the point that Mumbai 26/11 was all but forgotten, much like Kargil 1999 and Parliament 2001 had been earlier.

Now that the elections are over and the same government that was talking of exercising "all options" against Pakistan is back, Pakistan has hit back with perfect timing. Hafiz Saeed has been released by a Pakistani court for lack of evidence. The Mumbai attack trail is now dead in Pakistan. A tighter slap than this could not have been given by one sovereign nation to another. And what is India's response? It is complaining like a little boy to mummy (US) and, even worse, getting ready to offer the other cheek for the nth time.

After saying for months that India will not re-start the dialogue with Pakistan till it shows concrete evidence that it is serious about fighting the terror that Pakistani "non-state actors" have unleashed in India, it is now getting ready to start talking again, despite Hafeez being on the loose and Pakistani PM's provocative statement on Kashmir. Trust the Indians to find every excuse in the book to do nothing more than talk.

As per a report in the Times of India, the new Foreign Minister SM Krishna has dug out the words of JFK to begin talking: "Never negotiate out of fear, but never fear to negotiate". The same report goes on to say that talks might "get the Pakistanis to attempt to stop the next big-ticket terror attack" that it is likely to sponsor to push India to come to the table. Now if this is not negotiation out of fear, then I don't know what is. In fact, this is worse; it is an open admission of the painful fact that India remains struck by a paralysis just like the one that had immobilised Superman Christopher Reeve.

A negotiation born out of fear is not a negotiation at all. It is no more than bargaining about the quantum of concession that you, not the other party, have to make. This is elementary. Pakistan is effectively ruled by the military. A military mind simply cannot accept defeat, however small, except on the battlefield. That should have been clear to the Indians after decades of fruitless negotiations. How could India have missed the basic understanding that Pakistan's generals would, one way or another, continue to try to defeat India, without going in for a full-blown war?

Unfortunately, we have a bunch of fuddy-duddy politicians and babus on our side who think that life begins and ends with negotiations, which they think they can win with their minds and tongues alone. They haven't yet realised - no surprise - that a military under command is very different from a military in command. That is why this sordid drama is played out again and again, and that is why India keeps losing its sons to a proxy war that its ignorant rulers want to believe out of fear that they can win by doing nothing about it at its source.

Nothing has been learnt; nothing will be. Brace yourself for a new series of Mumbai 26/11s and more.
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Readers may also read:
1. Had Ajmal Kasab not been captured alive
2. War on terror: will it take God's wrath to undo the rot?
3. Cowardog 'superpower'
4. Mumbai 26/11: will India use the military option?
5. Hafiz Saeed...26/11